Actors allege JobCentre staff take bit-parts

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JOBCENTRE staff are angering unemployed actors by 'snaffling' walk-on parts that normally go to the professionals.

Members of the actors' union, Equity, are turning up for work as extras to find themselves rubbing shoulders in crowd scenes with civil servants from the Employment Agency. The union argues that JobCentre employees are mis-using their 'insider knowledge' to secure part-time work which is the bread and butter of the Equity member 'resting' between roles.

Ian McGarry, general secretary of the union, said that if the JobCentre staff were picking up roles as 'extras' they may well be securing the best of other part-time jobs. 'These people are in full-time employment and simply doing it for a lark when there are actors who need such work to stay alive.' Legislation outlawing the 'closed shop' means that producers can no longer inist on an Equity card.

Mr McGarry wrote to Michael Portillo, Secretary of State for Employment, who declined to take responsibility.

In a letter to Mr McGarry, Mike Fogden, chief executive of the agency, said his staff were allowed to take additional jobs provided there was no 'conflict of interest' with their normal work. He wrote: 'If the vacancies referred to are advertised in the JobCentre then my people are free to compete for the posts in the same way as everyone else.'